Can I nurse my baby in the NICU?

Joane Goodroe
Nursing Specialist

Most premature babies are unable to breastfeed right away because they are not able to coordinate sucking and swallowing. This can add extra stress to the mother. Nurses who specialize in breastfeeding may help mothers learn to breast feed when the baby is ready. Be sure to talk to the nurses in the NICU about your concerns. 

Joan Connors
Nursing Specialist

The ability to breastfeed your baby while staying in the NICU depends on several things including the infants’ maturity and medical conditions. The most important factor to keep is in mind is nutrition of the newborn. Breast milk provides a complete diet perfect for all the baby's needs. Whether the baby nurses or is bottle fed breast milk is not relevant.

While the experience of breastfeeding creates an opportunity to form maternal-infant bonding, pumping breast milk would be a better option than formula feeding. Breastfeeding in the NICU is strongly recommended if the baby can tolerate the activity and has the ability to suckle. The next step would be to ensure the baby has the benefits of breast milk by pumping and storing properly.

Continue Learning about Critical Care

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.